Denver should stick with running game And while they're at it, Broncos should steer clear of imposing nose tackle


Super Bowl Xxxii

January 20, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

SAN DIEGO -- If there is one thing Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway has discovered in his three Super Bowl losses, it's that a team needs a running game to be successful.

The Broncos have a running game this time, for Super Bowl XXXII, but the opponent is the Green Bay Packers.

No sweat. Here's some advice for Denver: Don't abandon the running game early and run away from nose tackle Gilbert Brown.

"I think we're all -- I'm talking about coaches -- pretty much in agreement that Gilbert Brown is the best pure run-stopper in football," said Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. "He'll cause you to alter your game plan or at least make you aware of his presence."

Some teams enter games against Green Bay believing that they have to establish the run right away or throw. But Denver occasionally needs to go at Brown, whose hearty appetite hurts his conditioning. The Broncos have to double-team him, post him up and then have one of the players scrape off on a linebacker on every running play in the middle.

The Broncos need to keep running until the fourth quarter as long as the game remains close. As Brown goes, so goes the Packers' run defense, which has been known to buckle in the fourth period.

At the same time, Broncos running back Terrell Davis has a reputation for getting stronger late in games, and he is effective running toss and off-tackle plays, which would lessen Brown's impact.

Also, Denver should use a three-receiver set to spread the field and run the ball. And the Broncos should occasionally move tight end Shannon Sharpe outside to wide receiver.


Green Bay has outstanding safeties in LeRoy Butler and Eugene Robinson, who are great at run support. Open up the field and it decreases their attack area. Butler or Robinson will have to play Sharpe, and if the tight end moves to the outside, that takes away some run support in the middle.

Also, Denver has to run left because even though Packers left end Reggie White has slowed down, he still plays the run fairly well and may be too much for right tackle Tony Jones, the former Raven.

Denver left tackle Gary Zimmerman, though, still can dominate games, and Sharpe hooked several Pittsburgh Steelers on toss plays to allow Davis to get outside in the AFC championship game.

The Broncos know they have to run in this game. Elway is no longer able to carry the team with his right arm.

"The running game has been our bread and butter," Jones said. "It's an underrated part of our offense and our line has been ignored most of the season. But when you play in these types of games, the only way you can win is to come out and play smash-mouth football."

Pub Date: 1/20/98

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